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Alessandra Steinherr’s skincare saviours to rescue lockdown skin

The Glossary’s Contributing Beauty Director reveals her tried and tested products for sensitive skin and breakouts

Suffering from skincare issues during lockdown? You’re not alone. After several weeks of isolation and a break from make-up and pollution, you’d think our skin would be glowing, but in fact the opposite is true. Most of us are suffering from ‘Lockdown Face’, with unsightly breakouts, dry patches, blotchy and hyper sensitive skin becoming the norm. While stress, sugary treats, too much wine and a lack of Vitamin D are partly to blame, it’s likely that much of this is self-inflicted, as we embrace at-home beauty routines with fervour. Here The Glossary’s Contributing Beauty Director Alessandra Steinherr tells us how we can repair any damage caused during quarantine.

Alessandra Steinherr Lockdown Skin

While life during lockdown is undoubtedly a struggle, there are some benefits: with more time on our hands, it’s a great opportunity to become more consistent with our skincare and finally establish a proper beauty routine. However, many are using self-quarantine as a chance to be more experimental with the products they choose, increasing their use of retinoids, acids or microneedling, all of which can wreak havoc with skin’s delicate natural barrier.

It’s important to remember that any new at-home DIY beauty routines should be done in moderation. While actives can be a wonderful addition to your regime, using the wrong products – or even the right ones – incorrectly can compromise the skin barrier, resulting in a red, sore and flaky complexion. And while some actives, like peels and chemical exfoliants, can give a mild tingling, your skin should never sting or burn.

If you do find yourself with reactive, sensitive skin, there are certain ingredients you should avoid, as these will only exacerbate the problem. Always check products for sulfates – foaming agents that strip the skin of their natural oils – and stay away from any that include fragrance (this goes for natural fragrance too), as it’s a common irritant. You should also be wary of essential oils, which are very potent, and some alcohols, which can be drying (apart from fatty alcohols, which are hydrating).

If you’re suffering from inflammation, steer clear of acid ingredients, too – glycolic, lactic, malic, citric and mandelic acids. Their job is to remove the glue that holds dead skin cells together and this exfoliating action can be too much for inflamed, sensitive skin, so leave them out until your skin is back to normal. The same goes for retinoids, whether over the counter or prescription, and cleansing tools like sonic brushes. It’s also worth pointing out that an allergic reaction, like hives or angry bumps, is a completely different situation to redness and irritation. In this case, don’t put anything on your skin and book a video consultation with a dermatologist as soon as you can.

For skin that’s suffering from over-processing, the below routine will help heal the weakened barrier, using as few ingredients as possible. Keep it simple – the skin has an amazing ability to repair itself, so you don’t need to overload it. These products will give it just what it needs.

Kiehl's Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser
The Cleanser

While you may be wearing less make-up than usual – or even none at all – it’s still vital to cleanse thoroughly twice a day to get rid of sweat, dirt and excess sebum. Opt for a simple, gentle cleanser – by that I mean one that’s not an oil or a cream. You want something that feels light, with a gel-like consistency, is non-foaming and doesn’t contain sulfates.

Kiehl’s Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser, £28 does the job perfectly. Formulated with Centella Asiatica extract, an ancient medicinal plant, it clears impurities while strengthening the skin barrier. Be sure to rinse it off with lukewarm or cool water – hot water strips the skin of its protective oils – and don’t use a cloth, as this can cause unwanted friction.

Vichy Fortifying Recovery Mask
The Mask

When the skin barrier is vulnerable, you need to get the balance between water and oil just right and find a way of replenishing both. I recommend trying the Vichy Minéral 89 Fortifying Recovery Mask, £8 a sheet mask enriched with hyaluronic acid and glycerine for instant moisture. This micro algae fibre mask is fragrance-free and has no drying alcohol, so it won’t irritate sensitive skin. It comes in a double compartment with a generous dose of fortifying serum on one side and a sheet mask on the other, which you mix together. Once the mask is soaked in the serum, apply it to your face and leave for ten minutes before removing and gently massaging in any excess serum. It’s a really calming way to recharge and hydrate the skin.

Dr Barbara Sturm Hydrating Face Mist
The Mist

If, like me, you already use a mist in your routine, or you’re thinking about introducing one, the Dr. Barbara Sturm Hydrating Face Mist, £75 is an ideal choice as it contains very few ingredients, so there’s less risk of irritation. The gentle yet enriching formula is packed with hyaluronic acid and antioxidants like lemon, aloe vera and broccoli, which work together to deliver a light but powerful burst of hydration to thirsty skin. I like to use a mist throughout the day to refresh my skin, particularly during the summer.

Toleriane Ultra Dermallergo Serum
The Serum

While skin is still damp, apply your serum – don’t let the mist dry, as it’s important to seal in hydration immediately. La Roche-Posay’s new serum, Toleriane Ultra Dermallergo, £28, is specifically tailored for compromised skin. It’s very light (meaning it works for oily skins too) and, aside from skin barrier-protecting and hydrating ingredients like glycerine, it’s also enriched with neurosensine, which soothes and calms.

Chanel La Solution 10 De Chanel
The Moisturiser

Now that the skin is hydrated it needs oil – the peptides and ceramides – to create a barrier against environmental aggressors and seal everything in. Invest in a good moisturiser, one that’s made up of emollients, humectants and occlusives to prevent water evaporating and make sure that all those hydrators do their work.

Chanel’s sensitive skin cream, La Solution 10 De Chanel, £62, is their first moisturiser specially formulated for stressed skin. Each of the cream’s 10 ingredients was carefully chosen to help restore and re-balance the skin’s barrier, with antioxidant Silver Needle tea extract to de-stress, shea butter extract to nourish and squalane to hydrate. Gloriously comforting, it glides on and instantly soothes.

Kate Somerville DeliKate Recovery Cream

I also really rate the new DeliKate range by LA-based facialist Kate Somerville, £69, which is made up of three new products designed for sensitised skin: a cleanser, serum and moisturier. The Recovery Cream moisturiser is my favourite – a buttery balm that spreads easily and doesn’t feel greasy on the skin, it acts as the perfect sealant.

Guerlain Super Lips 'Lip Hero'
The Lip Balm

I always finish off my routine with a nourishing lip balm, like Guerlain’s Superlips, £18.95. Incredibly rich and hydrating, it’s formulated with grapeseed extract, which instantly restores and plumps dry, parched lips. For extra hydration it can also be used as an overnight mask – I like to apply a generous layer before bed.

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